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Hindsight And Growth Mindsets


Angela Lee Duckworth hosted a TED Talk back in 2013 which tackled the psychology of resilience; the talk focussed on her story, and how, as a teacher, she noticed that IQ was not the determining factor of a student’s success in the classroom, and how, after several years in teaching, she changed career paths to scratch that itch in her brain, that had her baffled about what made students succeed. She explained that after becoming a psychologist, she and her research team traveled to numerous places nationwide to make predictions about the successes of individuals, whether it was salespeople in employment, or whether it was children at a spelling bee.


She concluded that what was the greatest determining factor for success was grit; a sense of purpose and motivation to succeed, and foresight that allowed people to get their hands dirty in pursuit of the future they sought. Grit manifested in Newly Qualified Teachers in deprived areas and underfunded schools, doing their best for their students, and making decisions about whether this career actually was for them.


Watching her talk made me think back to when I was at school; I had always been a hard worker and found myself doing consistently well throughout school, my grades averaging me in the top sixty kids for every subject, and putting me in one of two top sets for everything. When we began our final two years, I was bumped up to the be-all-and-end-all top set class for maths, English, and science, and became best friends with the girl who was vying for the top of the class spot against two other students. Not that I minded, she never belittled me for not being able to run in the big leagues with her, because she knew I worked hard. And, frustratingly, despite my efforts, I was always in the middle of the pack.


I studied hard to make sure I could stay in her class, and have fun with my classmates, all of whom I had grown closer to. But, there was one boy who drove me crazy; we shared a desk in several subjects, and he insisted that despite him achieving the same scores as me, that he never studied after hours. I was irritated by his sheer complacency and lack of gratitude to be in the top-set class, and berated him, constantly for refusing to revise for his exams.


In the talk, Duckworth acknowledged that natural talent didn’t make you predisposed to success, instead, it was something deeper and more ingrained into a child’s psyche. Vying to retain a space in the top set classes, meant that I was grittier, and hardier, more receptive to feedback and failure, despite loathing struggling with anything at the time. She explained that “So far the best idea [she has] had about building grit in kids is something called a growth mindset. This is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. Dr Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.”


Having inadvertently begun to internalise this under my own steam, meant that I was already in a position to view academia and failings through a different lens in the future. I remember, however, a conversation I had with the boy in my class, back before our exam season begun. He sat quietly confident beside me, asking why, if I had never failed a test, why I needed to fret over the answers because I knew enough to pass. I had dismissed him, but, in response, he told me that I needed to take a moment, to breathe, and be mellow, or I would work myself into a frenzy, while I told him that he needed to take a minute to focus on what these scores alone could do for his future.



Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com

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